I honestly thought I would write this post about my experiences of the immigration process in Sweden much earlier but I decided to wait until the whole process was done. It took altogether four months before I saw my first teacher’s salary on my very own Swedish bank account. There were some obstacles in the road…

Let’s start with the fact that I’ve lived in Sweden before. When I first moved here five years ago, it took me less than two weeks to register with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), get my personal ID number and open a Swedish bank account. Thanks to the EU and the Nordic agreement (no residence permit or complicated documents needed) it was all quick and simple.

That is to say, I basically had had everything I needed to come back here again to work. But somehow it wasn’t that easy to re-register. The first step was to get the ID number (personnummer) which I applied for immediately after I was hired. I asked Skatteverket to check my previous personnummer in case it was still there in the system. No, they didn’t want to do that. They put me in the line for a new personnummer and ID card. After one week, however, I received the exact same ID number I had had before…

Since I had previously existed in the Swedish registration, I thought that maybe my old bank would also find my personal information. It’s not very clear in Sweden whether the banks are allowed to open new accounts with a personnummer only or whether one must have the plastic ID card, too. Anyway, for me, the answer was no. They couldn’t even check whether they had any information regarding my ID number. They told me they needed the number of the ID card to be able to open an account.

When you apply for the Swedish ID card, you must pay for it first. I’ve heard it has been okay to pay from a non-Swedish account which, of course, makes sense as you cannot open the account without the ID card. Anyway, in my case, Skatteverket didn’t let me pay from my Finnish Euro account (no IBAN number, only the Swedish one). Instead, they asked if I know anyone who could pay the fee for me from a Swedish account…

I waited for two months until I received a letter from Skatteverket. It wasn’t the ID card. They just wanted to inform me that they would let me know when the card is ready to be picked up… I wonder if that was necessary… However, there was the number of the card in the letter which got me excited. Maybe I could finally go back to the bank, open the account and get my salary! Well, you probably guess what they said this time. No, they needed the plastic card for opening a new account. It didn’t matter that I was their customer in Finland or that I had been their customer in Sweden before.

Don’t worry, I’m getting closer to the happy end of this story…

Basically, there wasn’t anything else to do other than wait for an SMS from Skatteverket. Since I had already moved twice during the process, I emailed them to make sure they would really send an SMS, not mail, which would take longer time. Luckily, the Swedish Krona has been exceptionally weak during the spring. I managed to get back some of the money I earlier lost in transit when using my Euro card.

Two weeks ago, the miracle finally happened. I came back home from a long relaxing weekend in Åland and found it on the floor – the letter that finally told me my Swedish ID card was ready to be picked up from Skatteverket! (By the way, I never received the SMS they had promised to send… )

The past two weeks have been full of big events. I got the Swedish ID card eventually, opened a new Swedish bank account and learned how to swicha (Swich is an app you need for your social life and coffee in Sweden). I went to Finland for the weekend to get my Master’s degree in Education and celebrate. Perhaps the best graduation present was, however, to finally receive my salary from the past four months! Let life in Sweden finally begin!


Bonus level

After two months of working as a novice teacher, I noticed that something changed in the way I work. I can easily say I handle the routine, I know what to teach and how and I know how to handle my class. Let’s call it as the basic level of teaching. Mastering the basic level you will easily survive as a substitute teacher. But surviving is not mastering. To reach the next level, you will get to the topic that all the exam books in teacher training are about – differentiation. According to my qualification certificate, I master differentiation on paper. And yet, I find myself spending hours on thinking how to support my students’ learning better. How to apply differentiation and intensified support in practice? And is it something I should think about on weekends?

As a novice teacher who hasn’t specialized in special needs education, I was feeling quite lost with different learning difficulties and behavioral disorders. In the beginning, it just felt too much to take everything into consideration. Therefore, I tried to focus on the general support and surveyed the students’ needs. At that point, it was enough. But as the school year is ending soon and the plans for the next semester need to be done, I suddenly found myself in the middle of the Swedish red-tape jungle. This led me to the classic question: Why weren’t we taught anything about this administrative side of a teacher’s job? How to read a diagnose and how to use that knowledge in teaching? At least in my opinion, it would have been a rather useful course to do before graduating,

The fact is, however, that you cannot close your eyes and pretend that disabilities or misbehavior do not exist. They will still be there when at some point you finally have to open your eyes. Furthermore, they won’t disappear if you don’t react to them somehow. So, did my homework and thought what else I could do to support my students. Not only to help them to learn better but to feel better, too. Perhaps this is the deeper level that makes the difference between the position of a permanent teacher and a supply teacher. You take the long-term responsibility for your students. And maybe even a little bit too much of it. Some might even call this as the occupational disease of a teacher.

Sure, as the classroom teacher it’s mainly my business how the students are doing. Also, my wellbeing at work depends on that. But no, it isn’t worth to worry about the bonus level alone at home on weekend. At least that is not how it should go. What I have learned now is that I cannot leave myself alone with problems that should be solved with multi-professional cooperation. The greatest respect for all special education teachers!